This November, the Scenic Foothills neighborhood celebrated the opening of Anchorage’s newest inclusive playground in Chugach Foothills Park.
The park joins other inclusive playgrounds developed through the Public-Private Partnership between Anchorage Parks and Recreation and the Anchorage Park Foundation. Inclusive playgrounds are designed to go beyond ADA requirements to make play accessible for individuals of all ages and abilities.
The new inclusive playground is a result of Scenic Foothills neighbors advocating for the need for a playground in their area to their community council and Parks & Recreation and helping to pass a municipal park bond in 2017. US Census data collected by the Parks department demonstrated a need for an inclusive playground in Chugach Foothills Park. Data from the neighboring four census blocks showed that nearly 3,500 individuals in East Anchorage experience some sort of cognitive or physical impairment. Further information on the types of impairment experienced by neighbors informed city park planners on the types of play equipment to install.
As for the themes of the playground, Maeve Nevins‐Lavtar, Senior Park Planner with Parks & Recreation said, “The Chugach Foothills Playground contains equipment designed with a basis on science and art, which were themes identified during the project’s design development with the Advisory Committee.”
Local elementary students from the STrEAM Academy, an ASD STEM charter located in the Scenic Foothills neighborhood, also helped with the design process. They gave input on preferred playground themes and participated in an exercise with parks planners to develop the site’s creative water drainage plan. Students were already experts on the park’s layout and features as they utilize Chugach Foothills Park at least twice a week in the Anchorage Parks Foundation’s Schools on Trails Program.
Scenic Foothills Community Council President Dawn Groth already appreciates the value of Chugach Foothills Park to her neighborhood. “Our neighborhood parks and trails help our neighbors get out and play every day, meet one another, provide activity‐friendly routes to everyday destinations, and increase the safety of our community,” Groth remarked. Dawn is confident that the new park will not only be of value to children of all abilities but to the entire neighborhood, “It’s a real mood lifter to hear the kids screaming with laughter while at play.”